Hay River farms receive funding to boost northern food supply

The plan says boosting opportunities for building greenhouses is high priority. (Supplied by Pexels.)
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Over $400,000 is being pumped into building up the agriculture industry in the Hay River area.

The money will support three existing farming operations and expand their operations.

Michael McLeod, Member of Parliament for Northwest Territories said the funding will help NWT farming businesses scale up production and supply food for NWT residents.

“Local food producers in the Northwest Territories play an important role in establishing a resilient food supply for their communities,” he said.

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Riverside Growers, a 5-acre family run greenhouse, is receiving $118,642 to help expand their growing space, as well as investing in new equipment to make packaging food more efficient.

Greenwood Gardens, a family-run market garden who grow in greenhouses and in raised beds, received $111,174 in funding to expand their greenhouse space, which will allow them to start growing tomatoes and cucumbers. 

Choice North Farms, the largest produce producer in the territory, received $180,000 in funding for an in-line processing line that will help speed up quality assurance on produce.

Kevin Wallington, chairman of NWT Agrifood Association and owner of Hay River-based Polar Egg said the funding will help, but it will take collaboration from businesses and the government to properly establish the agriculture industry in the NWT.

“There’s a lot of food related programs that aren’t necessarily utilized in the Northwest Territories, because we don’t have a commercial sector like you would in other parts of the country,” he said. “So we have to have agreements in terms of being able to access, who’s delivering those programs.”

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Wallington added there’s momentum building and collaboration with Indigenous governments and various organizations bodes well for the future.

GNWT Finance Minister Caroline Wawzonek noted how improving food security in the north is part of the 19th Legislative Assembly’s mandate and growing the agriculture sector is an important way to achieve this.

“Like many things, however, COVID-19 has shed a new lens on agriculture in the North,” she said. “The pandemic has exacerbated food security concerns in the NWT placing added emphasis on assisting vulnerable populations – and further illuminated the need for regional economic diversification in our territory.”

The money is part of the Canadian Agriculture Partnership, a five-year, $3 billion project funded by the federal government as well as territorial and provincial governments. 

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